St. Olaf Choir and Magnum Chorum team up for Pietá

An aerial view of the St. Olaf Choir, with conductor Anton Armstrong The St. Olaf Choir, conducted by Professor of Music Anton Armstrong ’78, will welcome Magnum Chorum to campus this Sunday, May 1, for a joint performance of the passion oratorio Pietá.

Composer John Muehleisen will discuss Pietà, his epic new work, in a talk that begins at 3 p.m. in Boe Memorial Chapel. The St. Olaf Choir and Magnum Chorum performance of the work will begin at 3:30 p.m.

The concert, which will be streamed and archived online, is free and open to the public.

Muehleisen’s dramatic oratorio explores themes of compassion, forgiveness, mercy, justice, and love as a means to heal and restore human relationships. It touches on the love between mothers and sons through scenes from World War I, the end of the life of Jesus, and modern stories of loss.

Pietà draws on chorales by Bach, Biblical texts, and poets Wilfred Owen, William Blake, and Violet Fane, as well as excerpts from the funeral homily of Matthew Shepherd.

Founded in 1991, the 60-voice ensemble Magnum Chorum has been recognized for its expressive singing and inspired programs that brings artistry and spirit to a cappella choral music. The ensemble’s artistic director is St. Olaf Instructor in Music Mark Stover ’01, who also serves as the conductor of the St. Olaf Chapel Choir and Viking Chorus. Magnum Chorum has been featured at regional and national conferences of the American Choral Director’s Association, Chorus America, American Guild of Organists, American Hymn Society, and College Music Society.

The St. Olaf Choir, with 75 mixed voices, is the premier a cappella choir in the United States. For more than a century, the choir has set a standard of choral excellence and remained at the forefront of choral artistry.